—————————————————— From the President ——————————————————
Dear Members of the Israeli Association of Japanese Studies,
The Israel Association of Japanese Studies has recently changed its leadership. The leadership elected on the occasion of the founding of the Association, has completed its term with distinction, and in accordance with the Association Rules, has forwarded the torch to the newly elected leadership.
Endless thanks to the outgoing leadership: to Dr. Nissim Otmazgin, chairperson of the Association, Dr. Miki Dalito Bul, Cairperson of the Academic Committee, Professor Ben-Ami Shillony, Honorary President, to committees’ members, the secretariat, the student volunteers, and to supporters outside the Association. Professor Rotem Kowner and Dr. Otmazgin initiated and set the grounds for the founding of the Association, wrote its manifest; and with the support of Dr. Irirt Averbuch, called the first, founding meeting. Dr. Otmazgin continued the consolidation of the association with vision, vigor, enthusiasm, wisdom, effectiveness and grace. Dr. Daliot Bul, with similar characteristics, closely cooperated with Dr. Otmazgin and took constructive initiatives of her own. The members of the Association’s Council and of its Academic Committee contributed ideas, advice and support. Professor Shillony, in view of his stellar academic record and using his extensive contacts in Israel and overseas, contributed greatly to elevate the reputation of the new Association. The secretariat functioned very diligently and efficiently. The student volunteers helped enthusiastically and efficiently in managing the Association’s conferences and editing and designing the Association’s journals and posters.
Thanks to all those mentioned, and to the generosity of the Embassy of Japan in Israel and the Japan Foundation, the cooperation of the universities hosting the conferences, workshops and other events of the Association, we now have in Israel a dynamic community of “Japan Learning”- in academia and outside of academia. The inter-university cooperation; the multiplicity of conferences and workshops of researchers from Israel and overseas; the superb English language journal publishing articles by graduate students in Israel and abroad; the monthly Hebrew newsletter distributed to the members of the Association and the interested public, and the English language with wide international distribution; as well as the cultural events, partly in cooperation with the Israel-Japan Friendship Association and Chamber of Commerce – all these and others exemplify the dynamism of the "Japan Learning” community.
Congratulations to the new leadership: to Professor Kowner, chairperson, who had made an important contribution already in the founding of the Association and now has accepted the call to lead it, to Dr. Shalmit Bejerano, chairperson of the Academic Committee, and to the members of the Council and the Committee. Following Professor Shillony, I have big shoes to fill. I am very pleased to know that, as in a relay race, the overlap in the transition from the outgoing leadership to the new one, the transfer of the torch from hand to hand, has taken place in rapid motion – enthusiastically and vigorously. It is a very promising sign indeed
Looking ahead, my wish is that the new leadership vigorously and tenaciously would take off the runway paved during the past three years to new heights. Among other things, I envision the following as worthwhile objectives: (1) promoting in the Israeli institutions of higher learning an academic agenda centered on increasing the number of tenure track positions in Japanese studies while decreasing as much as possible the number of excellent researchers employed on part time and temporary basis, (2) encouraging institutions without departments of Japanese studies to introduce a “cluster” of Japan-related courses/seminars, as first step towards instituting a full-fledged department, (3) inviting independent Japan researchers to participate more closely in the Association’s activities, (4) Further strengthening Israel’s position as an energetic world center of research and teaching in Japanese studies, among other things by establishing significant, working ties with counterpart associations overseas and becoming a model for communities of Japan specialists abroad, where an association like ours has yet to be founded, (5) encouraging and promoting the incorporation of the Japanese language and Japan-related themes in the curriculum of Israeli middle schools and high schools, and (6) in cooperation with like minded organizations, instilling in the Israeli general public the realization of the spiritual, cultural, and practical importance of Japanese studies!